7 Things Probate Attorneys Can Do To Make Grieving Easier

Jun 7, 2023 | Probate

If you have recently experienced the loss of a spouse, and are searching for information or legal advice on how to proceed with the many financial and legal challenges associated with the death of a loved one, let us first express our heartfelt,,l condolences for your loss. Losing someone close to you can bring a tremendous amount of stress, not to mention the added weight of trying to navigate your way through the unfamiliar territory of insurance companies, funeral homes, legal institutions, banks, and creditors. 

It is understandable that you are feeling overwhelmed, but there is no need to go it alone. Probate lawyers can support you throughout the probate process by giving you emotional support and offering guidance. They can also act as a liaison between you and the various parties involved in the process. Let those who have dedicated their lives to helping people in similar situations do the heavy lifting and lighten your load. 

The probate process is legally required in Utah to ensure the assets of the decedent are properly distributed. The intent of probate is designed to honor the rights of the deceased, and make certain that assets are allocated appropriately to beneficiaries, after creditors have been paid. Probate is designed to protect individuals, but the process itself can be lengthy and complicated for loved ones. 

While the presence of a written will can help make the probate process less strenuous and time consuming, it does not necessarily negate the need for probate. Having someone experienced in the nuances of probate law can save you unnecessary delays, costly mistakes, and unwelcomed emotional distress. 

Consider these following services that a probate lawyer can offer to help get your financial affairs in order and allow you to move forward in the healing process.

  1. Explain The Probate Process

The probate process is largely unfamiliar to individuals who have never had to deal with the tragedy of losing a spouse. However, probate lawyers are acutely familiar and well versed with the probate process in general, and specifically in the state of Utah, where they specialize in handling all situations related to probate law on a daily basis. They can answer any questions you might have (some you didn’t even know you had), address any concerns about the procedural aspects of probate, and speak to the specific circumstances of your situation. Sometimes, just knowing what to expect can help reduce stress and eliminate unexpected surprises.

2. Minimize Delays/Save Valuable Time

The length of time that it typically takes a probate case in Utah to resolve is anywhere from four months to well over a year. Many factors contribute to the amount of time a case is in probate. There are two main types of probate: informal and formal. 

Informal probate is less complicated and time consuming. Informal probate cases typically involve estates with property values under $100,000, have a written will, and are uncontested, whereas formal probate occurs where wills are non-existent, contested by one or more parties, and assets exceed $100,000. The formal process requires added involvement by the courts and can extend the amount of time a case is in probate. A well-qualified probate lawyer can help you navigate the process, minimize delays, and ultimately save you thousands of dollars.

3. Assist With Paperwork And File Necessary Documents

While the amount of paperwork can vary depending on jurisdiction and the complexity of the estate, the number of legal documents required to be filed by the court can be staggering. Some of these court documents include: 

  • Death Certificates
  • Last Will and Testaments
  • Petitions for Probate
  • Letters Testamentary
  • Inventory of Assets
  • debts and liabilities
  • beneficiary designations
  • creditor claims
  • and appraisal reports (to name a few). 

Probate lawyers can properly fill out, and file, all the necessary documentation on your behalf to help mitigate mistakes and avoid costly delays in the process.

4. Resolve Disputes

During the most difficult time in a person’s life, no one needs the added stress of dealing with contentious situations. This is perhaps where lawyers can be the most valuable. When estates are in probate, often disputes arise that contest either the validity of a will or the amount of money to which beneficiaries are entitled. Trying to get insurance companies to pay what they owe, dealing with creditors, and in many cases, contending with relatives over the portion of the estate they believe they deserve, can be overwhelming and exhausting. Unlike most parties to the estate, lawyers can remain objective and help lower your stress level by deflecting negative emotions, defending your financial interests, and ensuring a sense of peace in the midst of all the chaos.

5. Inventory Assets 

As part of the probate process, an inventory of assets must be completed to identify and document all the property owned by a deceased individual. This can be a complicated and lengthy process depending on the complexity of the estate. The executor of the estate will need to gather and review documents, such as the decedent’s will, bank statements, investment account statements, vehicle titles, insurance policies, property deeds, as well as other financially relevant records, including real estate holdings, stocks, mutual funds, retirement accounts. 

Personal possessions such as furniture, artwork, vehicles, jewelry, and more will also need to be inventoried. The inventory process also includes identifying any outstanding debts such as mortgages, loans, credit cards, or unpaid taxes owed by the deceased. Lawyers who specialize in estate planning and/or probate can help provide the necessary guidance to ensure compliance with legal requirements and assist you with the daunting task of inventorying your loved one’s assets.

6. Manage Debt And Creditors

A deceased person’s outstanding debt may need to be repaid by the estate, depending on jurisdiction and other factors. If assets are available, generally, creditors have claim to the estate after funeral expenses, executor fees, administrative fees associated with settling the estate, and taxes have been paid. If the estate is considered insolvent, and the surviving spouse is not party to any outstanding loans or mortgages, creditors may make a claim, but may have to take a reduced amount or write off the remaining debt. Every situation has its unique set of circumstances. That’s why it is important to consult a lawyer who can help you understand the laws in Utah, give you sound advice on how to deal with the debt you have, and negotiate with creditors on your behalf.

7. Represent Your Interests

When the world seems upside down, and even those close to you seem to only be looking out for their own personal interests, it’s nice to know that you have a close ally that has your best interest at heart. This is not the time for more stress and conflict in your life than you already have. The only thing you should be concerned with is healing, grieving, and preparing for your life ahead. Lawyers who have been trained to handle these circumstances are equipped to deal with the pressures that come along with the probate process. Take this time to rest, and allow a probate specialist do what they do best….represent you!

Don’t Try To Handle Your Grief On Your Own!

Research confirms that the loss of a spouse is the number one most stressful moment in a person’s life. If you have recently lost someone close to you, we hope you have the available support you need, in the way of family and friends to help you through this difficult time. Nobody was meant to go through this alone. 

Just as you need those close to you to provide emotional support, we know you will also need professional help to see you through the difficult circumstances involved in managing your loved one’s financial and legal affairs. With over 95+ years 

of combined experience in probate and trust administration, ProvenLaw is confident that our probate firm can provide the professional help you need to get you to the next stage of your life. Give us a call today to schedule a free 30 minute consultation and get started.

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